The World’s Tallest Horse Breeds

Big horses are always an exciting showpiece to witness. One of the largest horses ever recorded was Sampson, a shire horse measuring 21.2 hands high.

These large draft horses are popularly used for farm and industrial work. Although they can make great companions, these large draft horses may suffer from chronic progressive lymphedema.

Belgian Draft

The Belgian Draft is a heavy-duty work horse with the power to pull carts, wagons and hitches of any shape or size. Additionally, it is often used as a riding animal – usually for disciplines such as western riding and jumping – while its kind temperament makes them easy to manage.

These animals tend to be taller than Clydesdales and can reach 20 hands (or 2.75 inches). Big Jake was a Belgian gelding that once held the world record for highest horse. At six feet 10 and 1/2 inches and 2,600 pounds, he resided with Jerry Gilbert’s family at Smokey Hollow Farm near Poynette, Wisconsin – his longtime barn friend Almighty Bruce was just slightly shorter in height and weight but still lived nearby!

Belgium Drafts are descendants of Flemish destriers, an ancient breed popular among knights and men-at-arms for transporting armored riders into battle. Bred for power and strength, Belgium Drafts remain popular today.

After World War I, American breeders of Belgian horses took steps to rehabilitate their stock by breeding imported stallions with old-style domestic mares to bring back the breed to its pre-war heavy working draft roots. Their efforts proved fruitful: Belgians now outnumber all other heavy draft breeds combined in the US! Unfortunately however, these beautiful horses remain susceptible to Junctional Epidermolysis Bullosa which causes newborn foals to suffer large areas of skin loss during birth, usually leading to their euthanasia.


The Clydesdale is one of the world’s tallest horse breeds. Known for their calm disposition and immense strength, these large horses make excellent work horses such as pulling wagons or carriages; plus they make wonderful show and parade horses!

Clydesdales are an extremely large type of draught horse. They usually reach 17-18 hands tall (from ground to withers) and weigh up to 2,200 pounds, making them suitable for heavy haulage work.

These horses originated from Scotland and were often employed in war. Bred specifically to be stronger and faster than other types of horses, these equine favorites are widely recognized for their beautiful appearance and high-stepping gait – many people recognize them from Budweiser beer commercials!

Shire Horses were once common sights on farms and in rural settings, yet have since become less so due to mechanized farming equipment. However, the Shire Horse Association is working tirelessly to regain this breed’s prominence.

The Shire breed of horse typically comes in bay or brown colors; however, black or chestnut hues can also be present. It features an elegant profile with straight facial features and broad forehead; deep body with high withers for power; long neck; well-arched shoulders are some key attributes as well.


The Percheron horse breed is the fourth-most populous in the world and is well known for its powerful build, proud stance, and endurance. These horses can pull carriages over long distances while also serving in logging or farming applications – they may also be found competing in dressage competitions.

This breed features a fine head with wide eyes and refined ears that project intelligence and energy, an elongated and crested neck in males, broad chest dimensions, strong hindquarters with broad knees and hocks, long pasterns and strong bone structure on feet – characteristics indicative of intelligence and energy.

Percherons come in various shades, including grey, black, and roan; occasionally they may also appear white but this should not be excessively so. Their coat should remain free from ticks and parasites for optimal health; these horses require little care other than daily grazing time and hay/grain feedings as well as health supplements to remain in top form.

Dr Le Gear was the world’s tallest Percheron ever and stood 20.5 hands or 6 feet 5 inches at his withers. Weighing more than 2,400 pounds, he was both the tallest horse ever and also served as one of Coney Island’s Luna Park attractions in 1904.


Shires, being the world’s tallest horse breed, possess an immense capacity for weight-pulling. Long employed in land reclamation projects and towing barges on England’s canal system until gas-powered engines became the preferred method, they remain widely seen today giving wagon rides at harvest fairs or maple syrup festivals or used as log hauling animals. Their massive size requires special diets that include extra protein and calcium. Their thick coats must also be regularly groomed or else it could lead to painful conditions known as “mud fever”, or scratches!

Shires are known for being gentle and easy to train horses. Although relatively newcomers to horse competitions, Shires can perform very well under experienced rider. Unfortunately, like other draft breeds, Shires may suffer from Polysaccharide Storage Myopathy (PSSM), a metabolic disease which results in abnormal accumulation of glycogen leading to muscle atrophy and loss. Signs include reluctance to exercise, sweating during physical exertion, tremors during activity and discolored urine due to exercise.

The heaviest horse ever recorded, originally named Sampson before being rechristened Mammoth, once weighed more than 33,000 pounds and stood 21 inches at its withers. On just one pull alone, Mammoth pulled more than 58,000 pounds – equivalent to three fully grown male African elephants!






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